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Tiny Homes For the Homeless

The UN and NGOs have been working on developing cheap modular housing for disaster victims for about 10 years now. A lot of different approaches have been tried, including completely modular “flat pack” style houses which are easily shipped in containers cost as little as $4000 – $30,000 depending on size and amenities, as well as using the containers themselves as housing. Containers were particularly attractive, due to the low cost of a 40′ container, which used, is typically between $1500 and $4000 depending on type and condition. There are literally millions of these containers sitting in storage yards, as they typically are only used once. Indeed, there is a burgeoning market in the US and overseas selling kits, complete with tools and components to DIY for under $20k.

The Rev in this article could probably have done better with a flat pack. This very basic model is $4,000, and this gorgeous one $8,000. Noticing that all of the Rev’s houses are set on trailer frames (which are expensive), I am going to guess the local zoning laws prohibit actually setting the house on the ground, considering them permanent.

In other parts of the world, like London, and in Slovakia – this concept is being introduced to the urban environment.

Seems to me that stripping this concept down into something useable by the urban/suburban homeless could result in a shelter designed for a 7-10 year lifecycle, with a toilet, and electrical connection for heat for something in the $3,000-$4000 range. Making the annual cost of housing about $300-400 a year. Which seems to me cheaper than running a shelter (feel free to correct me if I am wrong). It doesn’t eliminate the need for food and water, nor would the basic model be useable by families (a somewhat larger model?). There are a lot of “cracks and crevices” in most cities (open ground) where clusters of 5 or 10 of these could be placed. Clustering also adds to security for the homeless.

Tiny Homes for the Homeless

One Nashville pastor has a plan to help those without permanent shelter: building 60-square-foot houses with no bathroom, kitchen, or electricity.

ASHVILLE—Around the time that Vanderbilt University released the results of a large-scale study outlining the most effective solutions to homelessness, Pastor Jeff Obafemi Carr was moving into a 60-square-foot house with no bathroom, kitchen, or even a sink. Carr’s idea was to temporarily leave behind his wife and five kids to live in the tiny house, which looks like a tool shed, to raise $50,000 to build more such homes for the homeless.

After two months living in the home, Carr had raised $66,967—enough to build six. The buildings are now set up, on wheels, in the backyard of the Green Street Church on Nashville’s east side, part of a sanctuary that also houses homeless people living in tents who moved from an encampment in one of Nashville’s parks that recently closed.

The homes are brightly painted yellow, blue, orange, and purple, with red doors and white trim. They cost about $7,000 each to build, and measure 5-by-12 on the inside. Residents use bathrooms in the church, and shower outside with a hose. They eat donated food and drink coffee set up under a tent in the yard.

Peter Regan lives in one of the homes. He hangs his jacket on a bar above his bed, and folds his clothes in tiny cube containers at the foot of it. Batteries power a fan in the window, and many days, he’ll sit on a camping chair on his front porch and talk to his neighbors, other people without permanent homes.

“It’s a lot better than living in a tent, and if you’ve got some Yankee ingenuity in you, you can figure stuff out,” he told me from his porch, gesturing to the jury-rigged lights he’s set up (the homes are not yet connected to a power grid or generator).

Tiny homes for the homeless may not be the solution policy wonks dream of. Indeed, the Vanderbilt study found that housing-choice vouchers, which allow families to live in market-rate apartments, are among the best solutions for homelessness. But in many booming cities, including Nashville, where rents are rising and vouchers can be hard to come by, and there’s little city money for anti-homelessness programming, short-term solutions such as Carr’s may make sense. Regan, for instance, says he’s been on the waitlist for a Section 8 voucher for months.

“This model provides a stepping stone to homefulness,” Carr told me. “If you set the goal as homefulness, you have to think, ‘How do we get to that?’ So many times, people think they have to get a Ph.D. so they can get grant money to do a study to find out that the number-one thing to do to fight homelessness is to give someone a home.”

This DIY model to solving social problems is common in Nashville, a Bible Belt city where faith-based organizations play an especially important role in anti-poverty programs. Just consider where these homes are set up: the backyard of the Green Street Church, which welcomed in tents and tiny houses once homeless people were evicted from Fort Negley, a city park. “Sanctuary,” a sign reads on the fence surrounding the lot, the “T” in the word designed to double as a cross…The Rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life, Uncategorized

 

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Poverty in America… No Longer an Urban Thing.

A Brookings infographic on the reasons for rising poverty in the Suburbs.

The rest of this study can be found here.

One of the popular beliefs of the American ignorati (AKA conservatives, and their racist co-conspirators) is that poverty in America is confined to the “ghetto”. Not really surprising that they should be so far out of step with reality, when much of their belief system is based on a book written by Patrick Moynahan over half a century ago about conditions in the mid 1960’s.

With the collapse of American manufacturing, and it’s relocation to China – urban areas have undergone wholesale change as people have moved out to find jobs. This has resulted in a reversal of the “Great Migration” of the 1920’s and 30’s, where black folks moved wholesale out of the South to the North urban centers for better jobs building Fords and Chryslers. The segregation of the time stratifying the neighborhoods into urban clusters.

Creating a very convenient Pinata for the racist right.

Unfortunately for the right’s favorite talking point, twin forces are conspiring to destroy the urban ghetto. Gentrification, and the residents desire to seek employment. Tashwaniankia has moved to the ‘burbs!

Suburbs and the New American Poverty

More people with low incomes now live outside of cities, and some areas are ill-equipped to deal with the influx of the poor.

NORCROSS, Ga.—Every weekday around 3:15 p.m., a big, yellow school bus stops on Pelican Drive outside Norcross Extended Stay, near the intersection with Best Friend Drive.

Dozens of children file out, carrying their heavy backpacks away from the Wendy’s and the AutoZone, towards the cluster of aging three-story yellow buildings where they live. Some are met by waiting parents, others trek by themselves to the shabby motel rooms, marching past broken-down cars, their tires flat, scattered around the parking lot, and discarded mattresses piled next to some of the residences.

That families are living in extended-stay motels like this one may seem surprising in a town like Norcross, founded in 1870 and named one of the best places to livein Georgia by Movoto, a real estate blog, last year. Gwinnett County, where Norcross is located, is, in parts, a collection of well-off towns like Duluth, home to NeNe Leaks, of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame. Its unemployment rate is just 5.7 percent and one of its schools, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, was recently named one of the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

But the suburbs of Atlanta no longer hold just the promise of good schools, clean streets, and whitewashed homes with manicured lawns proudly displaying American flags. They are increasingly home to the very poor, who find themselves stranded in suburbs without the kind of transit or assistance that they might once have found in cities’ urban cores. They are stuck in places like Norcross Extended Stay, that see the same type of crime that families might have once seen in metro Atlanta. (A few years back, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department had to order 20 sex offenders to leave the motel, because it was located near a public pool.)

Joanna Watkins stays at home with her grandkids in one of the tiny rooms in Norcross Extended Stay while her daughter borrows her car to work as a waitress nearby. On the day I met them, Watkins’ granddaughters lounged on the motel’s polyester, flowered bedspreads watching TV while Watkins peered nervously out of the motel room’s first-floor window.

“We don’t let the kids go outside,” Watkins told me, explaining that the family is looking for something better. She moved from Texas in September to help out with childcare, but with her daughter’s low wages, they’re still looking for a more suitable place to live.Fully 88 percent of Atlanta’s poor live in the suburbs, according to Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution. Between 2000 and 2011, Atlanta’s suburban poor population grew by 159 percent, while the city’s poor population remained essentially flat.

 It’s not just Atlanta—across much of the country, poverty is increasingly a problem found in the suburbs. The number of poor in the suburbs surpassed the number of poor in the cities in the 2000s, and by 2011, almost 16.4 million suburban residents lived below the poverty line, according to Kneebone and Berube.

 

Poor Residents in Cities and Suburbs, 1970-2012

The fact that more poor people live in the suburbs doesn’t have to be a bad thing, Kneebone told me. If low-income residents have access to good job opportunities, affordable housing, low crime rates, and good schools, then the suburbs can provide a path out of poverty.

But poverty has increased so quickly in some suburbs that these areas are ill-equipped to deal with it, she said.

“Many of these communities lack the infrastructure, safety-net supports, and resources to address the needs of a growing poor population, which can make it that much harder for poor residents to connect to the kinds of opportunities that can help them get out of poverty in the long run,” she said.

The problem speaks to a different kind of erosion of the American Dream, in which families strive to get to the much-vaunted suburbs, only to find out there’s nothing for them there. And as suburbs see more and more poverty, they become the same traps that impoverished, urban neighborhoods once were, where someone born there has few chances to improve his economic standing.

There are more tangible problems that arise when poverty grows in the suburbs. Often, government structures change more slowly than the population at large, and residents find themselves represented—and policed—by people who don’t understand their needs or concerns. The unrest in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, over the past year, reflects this conflict.

Suburbs also have less transit than urban areas, making it difficult for low-income residents to get to jobs or buy groceries. And social services have been slow to follow the poor to the suburbs, so many suburban poor find themselves isolated and without a safety net, hidden from those who might be able to help.

 This all became extremely clear to the Reverend Harriet Bradley, who lives in an extended-stay motel in Gwinnett County, where a neon sign advertises rooms for $169 a week. She has no car, and depends on public transit to get around. It can take her three hours to get to church some days, and the public transit in the county doesn’t run on the weekends.

She says she was called by God to talk to other public-transit riders about the need to expand the bus system, and recently decided to attend a public hearing of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to ask them to divert more support to public transit in the county. After two long bus rides, she waited through hours of dull zoning appeals and then, right before the meeting ended, was given a few minutes to speak.

The crowd was diverse, but the commissioners were all white. Over the last decade, Gwinnett has become the most racially-diverse county in Atlanta. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, the county’s African American populationadded 112,000 residents, growing 143 percent, while the county’s Asian population doubled, adding 43,000 residents. The white population grew by a mere 1,680 residents. Still, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners is all white, as is the county school board, and all of the judges elected to county’s state and superior courts.

Bradley, who is African American, cleared her throat and stood in front of a round table of white elected officials and staff, and asked for more transit funding.”The bus schedules don’t start early or run late enough,” she said. “I’ve often heard people around me say, ‘They don’t realize that I can’t get to work.'”

A person without a car who wanted to attend that very meeting would not have been able to get home afterward because the bus doesn’t run late enough, she said (she’d arranged for a ride home). Gwinnett County residents without cars can’t get jobs at the mall or local warehouses, or at Atlanta’s airport south of the city—the busiest airport in the world—because the buses don’t allow them to get to work on time.

 “Many people have had to turn down jobs because they couldn’t get there,” she said, ending her speech.

Afterwards, she spoke individually to a few commissioners but felt mostly ignored. “The commissioners—they don’t really want public transportation out here,” she told me afterwards. “They wouldn’t use it anyway.” (…More…)

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Black Folks Leave the City

Been saying this for a long time – the popular, and often political image of black folks primarily residing in urban ghettos is hopelessly defunct. The urban center is no longer the focus or local of the majority of the black population in America – and hasn’t been for a while.

Lakaweeshiwanna Don't Live Here Anymore...

White Flight? Suburbs Lose Young Whites to Cities

White flight? In a reversal, America’s suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.

An analysis of 2000-2008 census data by the Brookings Institution highlights the demographic “tipping points” seen in the past decade and the looming problems in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, which represent two-thirds of the U.S. population.

The findings could offer an important road map as political parties, including the tea party movement, seek to win support in suburban battlegrounds in the fall elections and beyond. In 2008, Barack Obama carried a substantial share of the suburbs, partly with the help of minorities and immigrants.

The analysis being released Sunday provides the freshest detail on the nation’s growing race and age divide, which is now feeding tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.

Ten states, led by Arizona, surpass the nation in a “cultural generation gap” in which the senior populations are disproportionately white and children are mostly minority.

This gap is pronounced in suburbs of fast-growing areas in the Southwest, including those in Florida, California, Nevada, and Texas.

“A new metro map is emerging in the U.S. that challenges conventional thinking about where we live and work,” said Alan Berube, research director with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington. “The old concepts of suburbia, Sun Belt and Rust Belt are outdated and at odds with effective governance.”

Suburbs still tilt white. But, for the first time, a majority of all racial and ethnic groups in large metro areas live outside the city. Suburban Asians and Hispanics already had topped 50 percent in 2000, and blacks joined them by 2008, rising from 43 percent in those eight years. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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